The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: A Baroque master is heard in the context of dance music from his time
Musicians: Miloš Valent (violin) Jan Rokyta (cimbalom, recorders, Armenian duduk and clarinet) Holland Baroque Society
Composer: Telemann

The title of this predominantly lively album reflects Telemann’s comment in his autobiography about the ‘barbaric beauty’ of Polish music and the music of the Hanaks, experienced during his short period (1705–6) as Kapellmeister at the court of Count Erdmann II of Promnitz at Sorau (now ?ary). It takes its inspiration from the so-called Rostock manuscript and the 30 dances that survive in Telemann’s hand in parts for a first violin and bass, together with the Melodarium/Szirmay–Keczer and Uhrovec Collections of Slovakian folk songs and dances dating from the early 18th century, a collection of Netherlands minstrels books of the same period and other contemporary sources. These players give stirring accounts of selected extracts from Telemann’s oeuvre and skilful arrangements of the manuscript sources by Miloš Valent and Tineke Steenbrink.

Packaged into eight individual compilations together lasting 78 minutes, the music making is intimate, incisive and sometimes abrasively invigorating. With the multi-talented support of Jan Rokyta on cimbalom, recorders and other instruments, Valent and the members of the period-instrument Holland Baroque Society orchestra clearly relish the variety of roles they assume, turning in performances as vividly characterised and volatile as they are refined. The recording has a generous bloom, but detail and nuance are never obscured.